Did Rob Bell Really Say…?

 —  February 19, 2015 — 22 Comments

“Rob Bell is in the news again.”

My wife mentioned this to me the other day. I wasn’t aware of all the details in that moment, so I simply sighed.

robbellBell made headlines this week via an interview he and his wife took part in with Oprah Winfrey. The Bells promoted their new book on marriage, while poking at its definition and Christianity in general. Their book includes a chapter for gay couples.

Rob said, “One of the oldest aches in the bones of humanity is loneliness. Loneliness is not good for the world. Whoever you are, gay or straight, it is totally normal, natural and healthy to want someone to go through life with. It’s central to our humanity. We want someone to go on the journey with.”

Charisma Magazine responded:

God made us to be relational beings, but in a very specific way. He formed Eve as the fit companion and helper for Adam, the two of them uniquely designed to complement each other in the journey and mission of life.

And Paul’s solution to loneliness (and, even more so, to temptation) was specific as well: “Nevertheless, because of sexual immorality, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband” (1 Cor. 7:2).

He didn’t say, “Each person should have his or her own companion,” because that was never God’s intent for His creation… according to Bell, human feelings trump God’s Word, which can easily be dismissed as outdated—2,000 years outdated, it appears.

didGodLet’s talk about what we’re talking about… whether it’s the next thing Rob Bell says, or the next “Rob Bell.”

The first question in the Bible begins with “Did God really say…”

The first question a human asked in the Bible asks, “Am I my brother’s keeper?”

I see a theme there.

Rob is great at asking questions. It’s what made him largely popular among many Christians early on in his ministry. I sat under him as my pastor for a season when he was theologically sound. I realize that sounds like a summary statement, and it absolutely is. It’s the kind of statement that Rob himself might say, “Who’s to say what theologically sound even means? Is it because someone agrees with you?”

Notice, that would be simply asking another question. Still, Jesus said to evaluate people and teachers to make sure the fruit they were producing was healthy because it was in agreement with God.

Unfortunately, I’ve watched Rob build a career and new theological platform on asking questions…

which is like saying, “I’m going to jump up in the air. About midway up, I’ll jump again simply in my own power… and then, midway up from there… I’ll jump again, again in my own power.”

doublejumpThe first jump is sound… any jumps after that are just resisting what is actual law.

(Maybe a little much Mario has influenced this thinking.)

You’d have to construct something artificial – a platform, perhaps –  to make any subsequent jumps.You might become so used to using your platform and seeing others use it that you’d actually begin to feel like you redefined what it means to jump.

You haven’t.

You’ve merely gotten a number of people to buy into your platform to allegedly reach new heights.

Which perhaps is why when speaking on the attempt to redefine marriage to accommodate gay couples, Bell added, “…the church will continue to be even more irrelevant when it quotes letters from 2,000 years ago as their best defense. When you have in front of you flesh-and-blood people who are your brothers and sisters and aunts and uncles and co-workers and neighbors, and they love each other, and they just want to go through life with someone.”

Hang on… “Did Rob Bell really say…?” And because he did, “Am I my brother’s keeper?”

Here’s the irony – and this is what I’d really like to point out.

Bell is kicking at biblical values using biblical values. You see that, right?

I noticed this pattern in a review I wrote for his book Love Wins. Bell talks about the beauty of marital love from a perspective that God blessed us to have… while at the same time he’s questioning the very Source material by which he even knows that to begin with.

dictionaryAgain, it’s like saying, “The Dictionary is an outdated concept. Words no longer have meaning.” To state that, you just used words.

Tracking so far?

If there are any takeaways you can offer to people you know who are processing this, help them to understand this point.

There will always be someone in our midst on this side of heaven who perhaps with good intention is attempting to make sure we’re not missing something. Such individuals can either be helpful accountability to Christianity, or become so focused on potential errors that they create new ones in the process.

Thankfully, there will always be a God in our midst, too – both on this side of heaven and on the other side of it. He’s not threatened by Rob Bell’s comments… nor should we.

What we do need to do is remove the stumbling blocks it puts into the paths of others.

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.” (Ephesians 6:12-13)

Thoughts?

Screen Shot 2014-12-30 at 11.23.25 AMI respect the fact that people have differing opinions and beliefs. I also am fully aware that there are always two sides to every story. But even though I’m not an expert theologian or a professional reporter, I can say this Newsweek article is highly unfortunate. Good for business I suppose, but potentially an unwarranted problem for those of us that know the beauty of the Church and following Jesus.  If you have not read it I recommend you do so at some point. I cannot take the time to personally address or affirm all the points made in the article, but I will share a few thoughts on this, albeit blunt thoughts. College students and others you work with will likely hear about this, so here are a few bullet points to maybe keep in mind upfront:

  1. Clearly stated bias. Thankfully the author clearly states his bias in the beginning. He doesn’t state it as a “bias” and anyone somewhat disgruntled with the Church or Christianity will resonate with his statements, which is a bummer. But, those with some intellectual honesty can easily realize this is being written from a bias perspective.
  2. Not-so-good reporting. With the tone of getting to the truth, this sadly does not “report” much but instead states a particular perspective as the facts. And the author doesnt state sources but rather makes swooping statements like “all modern scholars.” This is misleading to say the least because the author only listed straw-man arguments from opposing views.
  3. Fantastic, but unfortunate rhetoric. By making his statements as irrefutable facts that don’t have rational explanations and doing so in ways that make anyone that claims to believe in the authority of scripture look like total idiots, readers that are not well informed on the scrutinies listed will likely think the bible is completely discredited.
  4. Dishearteningly one-sided. This article assumes there are not opposing thoughts or deeper understanding and does so by not even mentioning other thoughts or the fact there are common and often basic explanations for such things.

If you would like to read much more thorough thoughts on this article I would recommend Al Mohler’s blog or Michael Kruger’s blog.



THE BOOK
Student 40 Days in the Word Campaign

Week 1: The Authority of the Bible
Where did the Bible come from? How did we end up with the Bible we have today even though it is several thousand years old? How is the Bible different than other holy books like the Koran or the book or Mormon? Didn’t men just write it? The Bible is our only rule for faith and practice and was written by the inspiration of God and preserved for us without error today. But here’s the dirty little secret of Christians: no one reads it.

Week 2: Love, God
Why was the Bible written? The Bible is God’s love letter to us. The Bible tells Jesus story. The Bible reveals so much about life, God and eternity. We’ll cover the whole Bible themes as a whole and end with the idea that the Bible essentially ends with “Love, God” and then gives us ultimate challenge to love God.

Week 3: Bible Words You Need to Know
There are some huge words and concepts in the Bible that need to be explained and reveal huge truths about God and our relationship with Him. What does “sanctification” mean? How are we “born again”? Does “Ask Jesus into my heart” appear anywhere in the Bible? These questions and more in this message about Christian language you might here at church.

Week 4: OT Survey
An overview of the entire Old Testament in 30 minutes. We’ll cover each of the major divisions of the first half of the Bible and hit on themes and observations from a look at 35,000ft. A clothesline on stage will be hung with pictures of various important events covered in the Scripture.

Week 5: NT Survey
An overview of the entire New Testament in 30 minutes. We’ll cover each of the major divisions of the first half of the Bible and hit on themes and observations from a look at 35,000ft. A clothesline on stage will be hung with pictures of various important events covered in the Scripture.

Week 6: How to Study the Bible
This weekend we’ll cover the basics on how to study the Bible. We’ll do our best to explain and make practical the Bible study techniques of observation, illumination, meditation, interpretation and application. The message will end with a recap of the series as well as a challenge to spend time with God every day.

JG